Inveraray is a charming small town in Argyll on the shore of Loch Fyne, the longest sea loch in Scotland. This lochside town is just an hour and a half’s drive from Glasgow, making it a perfect destination for a short road trip across West Scotland. Also, Inveraray is easily accessible by bus.
You are going to love it here! Inveraray has all the ingredients for the perfect break away – breathtaking scenery, fascinating Highland history, stunning Scottish Georgian architecture and rich wildlife alongside great seafood restaurants and pubs.
Also, at the north of the town is the ancestral home of Clan Campbell – the gorgeous Inveraray Castle. It is one of the best castles to visit in Scotland.
The extensive estate of the castle has several walking trails. The most interesting of them is the Dun Na Cuaiche viewpoint. From the top, you will get breathtaking views to feast your eyes. Also, the famous Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park and Oban are not far from Inveraray.
This fishing town was the ancestral seat of the Clan Campbells, a noble family of Scotland. Inveraray became a royal burgh in the mid 17th century and was the administrative capital of the Argyll area.
The town that we see today was actually rebuilt by the powerful 3rd Duke of Argyll in the mid 18th century, replacing an earlier village. In fact, this is one of the first planned Scottish towns.
If you are wondering about things to do in Inveraray, we have got you covered. In this travel guide, you will find everything you need to plan a perfect holiday in this gorgeous town.
Where is Inveraray
Inveraray is a lovely historic town on the western banks of Loch Fyne in the Argyll and Bute area of West Scotland.
Like Cullen on the Moray coast, this lochside town was also a former royal burgh. It has a population of fewer than six hundred residents.
Inveraray sits on the A83 road, a major road in the south of Argyll and Bute. It is only 60 miles from Glasgow and just 38 miles from Oban.
You will pass through the scenic Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and the Rest and be Thankful mountain pass on A83 from Glasgow.
Oban, another bustling Scottish town, is around an hour’s drive from here. On your way to Oban, you will go along the picturesque Loch Awe and Loch Etive. Also, you will come across the magnificent ruins of Kilchurn Castle.
Is Inveraray Worth Visiting
This pretty Georgian town is certainly worth a visit! If you are searching for someplace off-beat to relax and unwind, Inveraray is the perfect place for you.
It is a true gem and undoubtedly one of the prettiest corners of Scotland.
You can easily visit Inveraray on a day trip from Glasgow. Also, the famous Loch Lomond, the largest lake by surface area in Great Britain, is only half an hour’s drive from the town.
Don’t forget to stop at the lovely conservation village of Luss.
From a fairytale castle to the historic town jail, stunning loch view to scenic walks – this town has plenty of things to offer.
Inveraray is a must-visit stop on a road trip to the western Scottish Highlands. From here, you can extend your trip to Fort William via Oban
and to the magical Isle of Skye after catching a ferry from Mallaig, a port town about 40 miles west of Fort William.
Best Time to Visit Inveraray
May to August is a great time to visit Inveraray. The days are long, and the weather stays relatively dry and warm this time of the year which is excellent for outdoor activities.
Nonetheless, Scottish weather is notorious for being unpredictable. Therefore you might catch all four seasons in a day. Also, it’s hard to avoid rain in Scotland altogether. So, come prepared.
Autumn is our favourite season to visit the west coast. We visited Inveraray in late autumn and got to see a vibrant and colourful display of fall foliage.
Note that Inveraray Castle is open only from April to October. So, if you are planning to visit this seaside town in winter or early spring, you will have to admire the castle from the outside.
Things to Do in Inveraray, Scotland
1. Explore the Colourful History of Inveraray Castle
Nestled on the shore of Loch Fyne, Inveraray Castle is one of the most picturesque castles in Scotland and the main tourist attraction of Inveraray. The ancestral home of the chief of Clan Campbell, this castle was built by architects William Adam and Roger Morris.
Also, the original structure of this stately home was made after taking inspiration from a sketch by Sir John Vanbrugh, who is renowned for designing Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard.
The construction of Inveraray Castle started in the mid-18th century and took over forty years to complete. The pale green hue and four corner turrets are two distinct features of this historic fortification. It is a fine mix of baroque, Palladian and gothic style architecture.
For the best view of this fairytale castle, walk over to the nearby bridge over the River Aray.
The Clan Campbell is one of the well-known Scottish clans across the world. The present Duke and his family still live in the caste today.
Only the first two floors and the basement are accessible to the public. Take a tour of this turreted castle to learn about the fascinating past of this particular Scottish clan.
On the walls of the Armoury Hall, you will see the muskets, axes, pikes and swords used in the wars. The 21 metres high ceiling of the hall is the highest ceiling in Scotland.
The rooms are beautifully decorated with period furniture, tapestry, artworks, family heirlooms and memorabilia. Check out the state dining room, tapestry drawing room and the old kitchen.
After a visit to the Inveraray Castle, take a leisurely stroll around the surrounding gardens filled with colourful rhododendrons and azaleas. Also, you can explore the walking trails around the expansive Argyll Estates.
The Christmas episode of the British historical drama series Downton Abbey was filmed here. Inveraray Castle was shown as the fictional ‘Duneagle Castle’ – Lady Rose’s parental house.
⏰Opening Hours: 1st April – 31st Oct, 10 am- 5 pm, Thursday – Monday.
💰Entrance fees: Castle & Gardens – Adult £14.50, Child £10.50. Gardens Only – Adult £7.
2. Soak up Endless View from Dun Na Cuaiche
If you are looking for easy and short walks in the Scottish Highlands with the most stunning view, the hike to Dun Na Cuaiche is perfect for you.
Dun na Cuaiche in Gaelic means ‘the hill of the cup or bowl’. It’s named so because of the distinct hollowed shape of the hilltop.
The walk starts from the Inveraray Castle, and the area is part of the Argyll Estates. It takes about two hours to complete this walk and covers a distance of 3 miles.
The path is properly waymarked and easy to follow. Cross the ornamental garden bridge over the River Array and follow the arrows through the tarmac path. In spring, you would get to see bluebells covering the woodlands. The track runs uphill gradually, crossing past some zig-zag roads.
There is an 18th-century watchtower on the top. The view from the top is simply breathtaking. You can see the uninterrupted, vast stretch of Loch Fyne, the surrounding mountains, the Arrochar Alps and the entire town of Inveraray.
It is a perfect place to have a picnic and savour the view. The cracking view is well worth the effort to get here.
3. Take in Breathtaking Views of Loch Fyne
Inveraray sits on the edge of the stunning Loch Fyne, renowned for its spectacular scenery, fishing heritage and rich wildlife. Stretching over 40 miles from the Sound of Bute, Loch Fyne is the longest sea loch in Scotland.
Also, this loch is famous for oysters and herring fishing. The entire loch is a designated Marine Protected Areas in Scotland. So, you might spot some dolphins, seals, otters and basking sharks playing into the loch.
The name of this loch is used in a popular seafood restaurant chain across the UK. Although the name of the loch means ‘Loch of the Vine/Wine’, there was never any vineyard around this area.
While in Inveraray, take a stroll along the shore of Loch Fyne and admire the unspoilt astonishing views.
We were here in the middle of autumn, and the loch looked absolutely gorgeous with the colourful reflection of the surrounding mountains on its still water. The boats moored in the harbour looked very atmospheric and photogenic.
There are quite a few attractions along the loch. The drive around the shores of Loch Fyne is gorgeous with ever-changing vistas. Among the lochside attractions, Inveraray Castle is the most popular one. Also, visit the Dunderave Castle, Kilmory Castle, Minard Castle and Crarae Garden along the loch.
During the Second World War, this area was used as a training centre for the army.
4. Uncover the History of Inveraray Jail
Inveraray Jail is a historic 19th-century prison and courtroom turned living museum and one of the best family-friendly attractions in the town. It was operational for nearly 70 years and was closed by the end of the 19th century.
Step back in time and discover the captivating lives of the prisoners who used to live here almost 200 years ago.
Learn about their day to day activities and the brutal punishment methods used in this jail – from branding with hot iron bars to nailing ears to a post.
There were men, women and even children as prisoners. Also, you will get to know the Scottish judicial system around this period.
In the courtroom, meet the life-size models and costumed characters and witness the enactment of a convincing trial. Walk the narrow alleys and cells of the Old Prison, where even young children used to live. Roam through the prison grounds and yards once used by the inmates.
If you are travelling with young children, the interactive displays and the stories of Inveraray Jail would be very enjoyable for them. Also, it’s a great way to learn history.
⏰Opening Hours: Every day, 10 am – 5 pm.
💰Entrance fees: Adult £13.50 and child £8.25.
5. Marvel at the View from Aray Bridge
After visiting the Inveraray Castle, head onto the small bridge over the River Aray for the most wonderful view of the castle. Inveraray Bridge, otherwise also known as Aray Bridge, stands at the mouth where the river meets the Loch Fyne.
Previously there was a military bridge here in the mid of 18th-century. After the old bridge got destroyed by flood, a new bridge was constructed.
The bridge was planned by Scottish architect Robert Mylne, who also did the interior remodelling of the castle.
From this small stone-arched bridge, you would get a cracking view of the castle and Inveraray. The footpath on the bridge is very narrow. So, be careful about the incoming traffic.
6. Climb the Steps of Inveraray Bell Tower for Views
The 38 metres high Inveraray Bell Tower, commissioned by the 10th Duke of Argyll, is a prominent landmark in this area. He built this tower as a memorial to the fallen soldiers of Clan Campbell in the First World War. It took almost ten years to complete.
This bell tower features ten bells, each named after a Celtic saint, and the peal is said to be one of the heaviest in the UK. The bell tower is open to visitors only on specific days during the summer months.
You have to climb 176 steps to get to the top of the tower. Enjoy an elevated view across Loch Fyne, the Inveraray town and the surrounding landscapes.
There’s a small exhibition at the base of the tower, explaining the history of this place and the bells. After that, you will get to see the ringing chamber and then onto the bell chamber to see the bells. Also, take a look inside the adjacent All Saints’ Church.
7. Explore Cute Local Shops
There are plenty of independent local stores and small galleries to browse through. White-washed quaint little shops lined the main street of the town centre.
In Purdie’s of Argyll, you would find a wide collection of organic skincare and beauty products, like soaps, shampoos and fragrances.
Later, pop inside The Chocolate Box of Inveraray for a sweet treat. They have a great selection of old-school retro sweets, handmade chocolates, fudges, Scottish tablets and candy.
If you are looking for some gifts and souvenirs, visit the Bonnie Argyll and Dream Time Studio. Here you will find local arts and crafts, crystals and gifts.
Visit the Pier Shop near the harbour for some ice cream, snacks, coffee and gifts. Also, the nearby The Courtyard gift shop sells a wide range of Scottish products. The Inveraray Woollen Mill is also worth a visit for some tartan and tweed products, cashmere, and souvenirs.
8. Pay your Respect at Inveraray War Memorial
Near Front Street, opposite the Inveraray Inn, you would find a beautiful statue of a kilted Scottish Highland soldier with a rifle overlooking the tranquil Loch Fyne.
This well-maintained war memorial commemorates the town residents who lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars.
Sit on one of the benches near the memorial and enjoy the stunning view of Loch Fyne and the surrounding mountains.
9. Visit Loch Fyne Whiskies
If you are a whisky fan, take a look inside the Loch Fyne Whiskies on Main Street. It’s a wee shop and workshop with plenty of whisky collections.
Try out a dram of their blended whiskies, Loch Fyne Living Cask Series, crafted after mixing a carefully chosen single malt with blended whiskies drawn from their original cask.
Some of their ranges have received Scottish Whiskey Awards. They have some rare collections as well in the collector’s loft.
You will have plenty of choices to buy a bottle for yourself or a gift for someone.
10. Delve into Delicious Food
There are quite a few great places to eat in the town. Pop into the Brambles of Inveraray for a bite to eat. They have a reasonably priced menu for breakfast and lunch. The atmosphere is very relaxing and comfy.
They have a great selection of cakes and pastries. We ordered apple pie and coffee and absolutely loved it. The service was spot on, and the staff were super friendly – a perfect spot for a tasty treat.
If you a seafood fan, you can’t go wrong with Samphire. This small seafood restaurant is located right beside the Inveraray Parish Church. Indulge in some locally sourced delicious seafood here. Try their extensive seafood platter made of lobster, oysters, mussels, and many other shellfish.
Also, the nearby Loch Fyne Oysters is worth a visit. They have a deli, oyster bar, takeaway and a restaurant serving a wide range of fresh and smoked fish, fresh oysters and shellfish.
If you fancy a takeaway, there is a nice chippy named FYNE Fish and Chip shop near the harbour. Enjoy a fish supper with a stunning view.
Places to Visit Near Inveraray
After visiting this fishing town, you can explore the surrounding areas of the west coast of Scotland. Here are some popular and must-visit attractions not too far from here.
11. Explore Luss and Loch Lomond
Located on the west bank of Loch Lomond, Luss is one of the prettiest villages in Scotland and lies only 31 miles from Inveraray. Aside from the astounding view of the mountains looming over the loch, Luss has pretty flowery stone houses which look really amazing in full bloom. Plus, the village has some great walking trails.
Perhaps, no visit to Luss would be complete without a cruise across Loch Lomond. From the pier, you would have cruise and waterbus services in summer to visit other villages on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond – Balloch, Balmaha, Tarbet and Rowerdennan.
You can catch a waterbus to the eastern shore of Loch Lomond to hike up to the Ben Lomond, Scotland’s most southerly Munro.
If you are a serious hiker, you might be interested in walking along the seductive stretch of Loch Lomond along the West Highland Way, a long-distance walking trail in Scotland.
How to Reach: It takes about 45 minutes from Inveraray to reach Luss by car.
Citylink bus 926 and 976 takes around 50 minutes.
12. Visit the Seaside Town - Oban
Oban lies just 38 miles from Inveraray. Located on the west coast of Scotland, it is a renowned seaside town of Argyll and Bute.
Known as the gateway of the Scottish Isles and the seafood capital of Scotland, Oban is one of the must-visit places around Inveraray.
From Oban, you can continue your trip to the town of Fort William, popularly known as the outdoor capital of the UK. The famous Jacobite Express leaves from there. You can extend your trip further to the Isle of Skye, catching a ferry from Mallaig, a port town about 40 miles west of Fort William.
From Oban, you can catch Calmac Ferries to visit several islands of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, like the Isle of Mull, Iona, Staffa, Colonsay, Coll and Tiree and the Treshnish Isles. Among them, Iona and Staffa are our favourites. All of them have an abundance of rich wildlife.
Oban itself is a very picturesque town to explore. Take a stroll around the bustling harbour and the promenade.
From the town centre, take an uphill walk to climb the McCaig’s Tower, an iconic landmark of Oban. Admire the spectacular views across Oban Bay, the Sound of Kerrera and the town itself.
Oban Distillery is located right in the busy town centre. They offer whisky tours and tasting options. Also, there are plenty of small galleries and independent boutique shops to fix your retail therapy.
How to Reach: From Inveraray, Oban is about an hour by car.
If you are using public transport, catch the Scottish Citylink bus 976. It typically takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes to get to Oban.
13. Admire the Stunning Setting of Kilchurn Castle
Kilchurn Castle lies about 15 miles north of Inveraray. Nestled on the shore of Loch Awe in an incredibly beautiful setting, this castle is one of the most photographed castles in Scotland.
Constructed in the 15th century by the Campbells of Glenorchy as a five-storied tower house, it was a power base of the Campbells for about 150 years.
Later, when they relocated to Perthshire, the castle was converted to a garrison fortress. Kilchurn is now a picturesque ruined castle amidst the astounding settings of mountain and loch.
For the iconic view of the castle, pull off on A819 right across the loch. There is a small parking spot on the road. From this viewpoint, you can see the castle with the majestic mountains in the backdrop.
How to Reach: If you are travelling by car, it typically takes just about 25 minutes to reach Kilchurn Castle from Inveraray.
However, there is no direct public transport. You will have to take the Oban Bound Citylink bus 976 and get down at the Post Office near the Loch Awe train station. The journey takes about 40 minutes. From there, Kilchurn Castle is nearly 35 minute’s walk.
14. Go Hiking in the Arrochar Alps
Arrochar Alps are a group of dramatic mountains located on the Cowal Peninsula in Argyll and Bute. This mountain range boasts of having several rugged Munros (mountains over 3000 ft), Corbetts (mountains above 2500 ft) and Grahams. If you are a keen hiker, definitely climb some of these beautiful mountains around Inveraray.
Among them, Ben Arthur (2900 ft) or the Cobbler is Extremely popular with mountaineers, climbers and hikers due to its distinct shape and easy access from Glasgow. It’s named the Cobbler because the rocky summit resembles a cobbler leaning over at work.
Before starting the walk from the Succoth car park, take a stroll around the tranquil Loch Long and the small village of Arrochar. The trail is clearly waymarked and takes around four to six hours to complete.
From the top, you will get an elevated panoramic view of Loch Long and Ben Lomond. If you are brave enough, climb up the rocky pinnacle of Cobbler, which is infamously called threading the eye of the needle.
Serious hikers might be interested in hiking to Beinn Ime, the highest Munro of Arrochar Alps and Beinn Narnain.
How to Reach: From Inveraray, It takes about half an hour by car and almost 50 minutes by Glasgow bound Citylink buses 926 and 976 to reach there.
15. Sit Back and Enjoy the View from Rest and Be Thankful
The Rest and Be Thankful is a viewpoint located at the highest point on the A83 road. It is 803 ft above sea level and separates the surrounding Glen Kinglas from Glen Croe. Also, the viewpoint is just 15 miles from Inveraray. A83 is almost 100 miles long and connects the Kintyre peninsula to the Loch Lomond.
It is believed that in earlier centuries, travellers would stop here to take some rest and admire the stunning view after a tiring hike across the mountain pass. Hence the name.
If you are travelling from Glasgow, you will have to drive through this scenic mountain pass on the A83. It is located about 10-miles from Tarbet, a small village on the bank of Loch Lomond. Make sure to stop at this viewpoint to take in the stunning view.
You can see the Old Military Road, built by General Wade after the Jacobite rebellion, along with the modern main road going through the valley.
How to Reach: Citylink buses 926 and 976 give a stop here. But keep in mind that this viewpoint is in the middle of nowhere. So, if you decide to get down here, you might have to wait for a long time, until the next bus arrives.
It’s around 21 minutes drive from Inveraray.
Map of the Attractions in Inveraray
Here is a map of all the best attractions to visit and the best things to do in this town. Click on the link to save the Google map on your phone. You can also use the map offline. We have also marked the best places to shop, eat and stay.
How to Reach Inveraray by Car
Inveraray is easily accessible by car, and driving is the fastest and simplest way to get here. The town is located on the west coast of Scotland on A83 between Tarbet and Oban. The drive from Glasgow is very scenic. You will pass through picturesque mountain passes, scenic lochs, mountains and countrysides.
From Glasgow, drive via A82 along the western shore of the beautiful Loch Lomond. At Tarbet, near the head of Loch Lomond, turn onto the A83 signposted for Inveraray. You will have to drive through the Rest and Be Thankful mountain pass. It is the highest point on A83 at 803 ft above sea level and boasts a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains.
From Edinburgh, follow motorway M9 towards Stirling. Take the turn on A811 and follow the road signposted Balloch. At Balloch, join the A82 and drive along the shores of Loch Lomond.
There are ample parking spaces in the Inveraray town centre, both paid and free. Here is a rough estimate of time and driving distance from nearby cities and towns of Scotland.
- From Oban 55 minutes / 37 miles
- From Glasgow 1 hour 30 minute / 64 miles
- From Fort William 1 hour 40 minute / 73 miles
- From Perth 2 hour / 85 miles
- From Edinburgh 2 hour 10 minutes / 110 miles
How to Reach Inveraray by Public Transport
Getting here using public transport is easy and comfortable. Catch a direct Scottish Citylink bus from Glasgow Buchanan Bus Station. Bus services 926 and 976 run daily towards Oban and Campbeltown before giving a stop in Inveraray. It takes about an hour and fifty minutes from Glasgow to reach here.
For the best price, buy your tickets online from the official website. An advance day-return ticket from Glasgow costs £20.70 per adult and £14.80 per child.
If you are travelling from Oban, hop onboard a Citylink bus near the Oban Train Station bus stop. It takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach Inveraray.
From Edinburgh, there is no direct public transport to Inveraray. First, you will have to go to Glasgow by bus or train, and from there, you will have to catch a Citylink bus service for Inveraray.
How to Get Around Inveraray
The town centre is pretty small and compact. It would not take very long to explore. So, the best way to get around Inveraray is by foot. All the tourist attractions are within walking distance of each other. We would suggest bringing a good pair of comfortable walking shoes.
A car is the best way to get around if you want to explore the nearby areas of Argyll. You can visit the rugged Kintyre Peninsula, the remote islands of the Inner Hebrides, majestic castles and towns. There are numerous walking trails in this area. Also, watch out for some deer, red squirrels and seals.
Where to Stay in Inveraray
Inveraray Hostel – Located very close to the town centre, this hostel offers self-catering accommodations. It comes with a self-catering kitchen, shared bathrooms, free WiFi, a comfortable lounge area and a drying room – good value for money. Private rooms for two people start at £63.
The George Hotel – Situated on the main street of Inveraray, this historic hotel offers 17 beautifully decorated cosy bedrooms, a restaurant, an old-fashioned cocktail bar and a beer garden. Doubles from £120 B&B.
Loch Fyne Hotel & Spa – Just a few minutes walk from Inveraray town centre, this hotel is a great place to relax and unwind in style and luxury. Restaurant, bar, swimming pool, sauna, spa and outdoor hot tub facilities are available here.
We absolutely love exploring this historic town and hope our travel guide has given you lots of inspiration on things to do in and around Inveraray.
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Love, Moumita & Sankha